20 August 2020

NOTE FROM NORM: There is Hope on the River

Over the years I have had my fair share of ups and downs.

I lost two children to a genetic disease early in their life.

I’ve lost close friends and family members far too soon in their life.

I’ve lost an election, a recount and a host of political fights and battles along the way.

I’ve had battles with cancer that I thought I had won only to have it come back and take me on again.

I’m still winning that battle every single day.

I may have lost much in my life but one thing I have never lost is Hope.

Because if we lose hope, we lose everything.

On August 27th, someone I have known for a long time and has worked alongside me and worked for me takes to a raft on the Mississippi River.

Two months.  1,700 miles.  10 states.

That’s how long, how far and how many states Erich Mische will travel in an attempt to save the non-profit, Spare Key, www.sparekey.org  he has led for the past 8 ½ years.

It’s a desperate attempt by a resolute man who sees the daunting in life but remains dauntless in his determination to overcome it.

When he called me to ask for my help on this trip, I told him he was crazy, and he was going to get killed.

I still think he’s crazy but I’m a little more confident that because of the help and guidance he is receiving from those who live and work on the river that he will be more safe than unsafe.

But I can’t fault him for his belief that there is hope on the river for Spare Key and the families it seeks to serve.

How do you simply turn off the lights of a non-profit that since 1997 has served over 4,000 families facing a medical crisis with nearly $4 million?

How do you tell families facing a critical illness or serious injury and the potential for financial ruin that Spare Key won’t be around anymore to help them or any other family?

How do you quit even though quitting is the easiest option available to you?

You don’t.

I haven’t.

Erich doesn’t.

Nor should any of us.

We live in a world right now where Hope seems to be in short supply.

COVID-19 has devastated lives and economies and communities.

Yet, despite the feeling of hopelessness there is Hope everywhere around us.

In the past two weeks my daughter got married and there was Hope all around her.

My Daughter-in-Law prevailed in a tightly contested primary for the State Senate and she was surrounded by people of Hope who supported her.

My PET scans continue to show that the beast that is my cancer is in hiding and Hope fills me with Joy.

Erich’s calling his trip “Hope on the River” and as someone who was Mayor of a River City, I can tell you that no truer words have been spoken.

There is Hope on the River.

The Mississippi River isn’t just any river – it is THE river that formed America – created opportunity and life for our country – feeds people – employs them – and offers ample evidence that Hope is alive in our nation.

That Erich would believe that hope on the river exists for Spare Key and the families he and his organization hope to support is not a surprise.

Spare Key has expanded its footprint from the one state it served in 1997 to 46 states it is now registered to serve families facing a medical crisis.

Along the river there are 10 states – Spare Key is registered to serve 9 of 10 of them.

Only Louisiana remains as the one state of 10 where Spare Key has yet to be registered and Erich will finish that task upon his arrival in Baton Rouge two months from his departure on August 27th.

But it will also represent the registration of the last state in the country allowing Spare Key to be able to serve families in all 50 states in America.

There is Hope coming down the river for millions of American families.

It’s a guy on a raft on a mighty river who knows nothing about rafting and travelling on the Mighty Mississippi.

A guy who is afraid of the dark.  Creeped out by wild animals.  And flees from blackbirds, squirrels, and bees.

Erich might seem to be the most woefully unprepared person to ever journey along the river on a raft.

Yet, in his heart he has all he needs to not only complete the journey, and save Spare Key, and continue to work to help families who need it:  He has hope.

I hope you will support Erich on his journey at www.HopeOnTheRiver.com because he’s making the commitment to do what needs to be done to save his non-profit.

But more importantly, he reminds all of us that if we lose hope, we lose everything.